The joy of being back lasted a few days, then the problems that seemed cute on arrival looked like a pain in the backside. The heat is overwhelming and I wake sweating, shower, sweat again and even the act of waggling my thumb brings on more sweat. It’s hot. I don’t want to wish my life away, but roll on mid-November and the cooler weather.
Khady and team had done a wonderful job of keeping the place looking good and maintaining the buildings. It’s not easy in the rainy season – the land is sodden, the roof blew off the bantaba – the small shelter that was the first structure we’d built, plants and trees get uprooted or drowned. Damp rises up some of the walls and a bunch of my photos had disintegrated.
This is my old chair:
A few things are perplexing. Khady tries really hard and wanted to surprise me. Shortly before I’d left, Miyuki, our Japanese guest, painted a beautiful mural around the base of the rustic hut. Khady decided to build a concrete toilet on the front of this, which in my view ruined what was one of the prettiest views, not to mention a nice painting. It’s true I’d agreed to add en-suites, but I’d mistakenly assumed they’d be discretely tucked onto the back. Actually, I’d said halt all building projects whilst I was away.
I’ve spent four years discussing eco-building techniques, natural materials and so on. The toilet is a concrete block, taller than me with no windows. At least they’d allowed for a compost toilet.
Another discussion we’ve had at regular intervals is animal welfare and the difference between keeping domesticated animals versus wild ones, a message that’s not gotten across. I’ve explained that many of our guests are interested in wildlife or bird spotting. But, then Khady will come home with a bedraggled looking parrot in a tiny cage. I set them free when no one’s looking, but with clipped wings, they’ll not last too long. They know I don’t like this but still they bring them to me and I’m not sure how to stop it. This time, in the middle of a pretty garden, she’d had a large concrete tank built, in which were four turtles.
Other European friends have faced similar problems – one friends wife brought back a monkey on a chain and tied it up in his bar. When day to day survival has been the focus of much of your life, it’s perhaps hard to worry about first world problems such as animal welfare, but I’ll keep trying.
Here are some images from Tam Kharit, the local new year festival: